Forecasters reduce hurricane season outlook a bit, still busy

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This hurricane season may be a little calmer than forecasters initially thought, but it will likely still be busier than usual, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others predict.

NOAA forecasters on Thursday cut their hurricane season forecasts from a 65% chance of above-normal activity to 60% and increased the chance of a normal season from 25% to 30% due to uneven sea surface temperatures, including a patch of cooler water offshore. from Portugal. Parts of the Atlantic are warmer than normal, but the variability caused forecasters to “retreat to the higher side” of their forecasts, said Matthew Rosencrans, chief forecaster of hurricane forecasts.

The weather bureau is now forecasting 14 to 20 named storms instead of the May forecast, which was 14 to 21. The forecast number of hurricanes remains the same at 6 to 10, while the storms that reach the main category of at least 111 mph are now predicted to be three to five instead of three to six. The forecast includes the three tropical storms that formed in June and early July, about average for this time of year, but calmer than years past.

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An average season has 14 named storms, seven of which become hurricanes and three of them major, according to NOAA. Last year there were 21 named storms, a record 30 in 2020 and 18 in 2019.

“While it has been relatively calm in the tropics for the past month, remember that it only takes one storm ashore to devastate a community. This is especially critical as we are moving towards what the team expects here will likely be a busy peak of the season,” Rosencrans said in a news conference.

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A sustained La Nina — the natural cooling of parts of the Pacific that changes weather worldwide — weak trade winds and somewhat warmer-than-normal Atlantic water temperatures still indicate a busy season, Rosencrans said. But the cool water patches, with temperatures closer to normal in some places than originally predicted, “could affect activity somewhat,” he said.

Colorado State University, which pioneered hurricane season predictions, also reversed its forecasts for the season compared to what it said in April. The school is now forecasting 18 named storms, down from 19, with eight hurricanes, down from nine. Colorado State predicts four major hurricanes, the same as in April.

“I don’t think the season is going to be a dud, but it will take some time to get going,” said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, who heads the school’s forecasting team.

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Klotzbach said this year with its strong La Nina and closer to average water temperatures, looks similar to 1999, 2000, 2011, and last year, with devastating Hurricane Ida hitting Louisiana, sloshing the northeast with heavy rain, killing many in the New York-New Jersey Region.

“Hopefully we won’t have Idas this year, but the overall environment is very similar,” Klotzbach said.

About 90% of Atlantic storms occur from August. The hurricane season peaks from mid-August to mid-October and the season ends on November 30.

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